What Is Jewish Literature?

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What Is Jewish Literature? is a richly thoughtful analysis and comprehensive overview of what defines Jewish literature. It is an international collection, featuring authors and scholars who write in different languages from different literary, spiritual, and personal perspectives. The book explores long-standing questions: What are the criteria for identifying Jewish literature? Are they language, religious affiliation of the author, religious sensibility, a distinctive Jewish imagination, or literary tradition?...
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Overview

What Is Jewish Literature? is a richly thoughtful analysis and comprehensive overview of what defines Jewish literature. It is an international collection, featuring authors and scholars who write in different languages from different literary, spiritual, and personal perspectives. The book explores long-standing questions: What are the criteria for identifying Jewish literature? Are they language, religious affiliation of the author, religious sensibility, a distinctive Jewish imagination, or literary tradition? If the writer is the criterion, do Sholem Aleichem and Nathanael West really inhabit a shared universe? Is a text by S.Y. Agnon part of the same literary tradition as a play by Arthur Miller? Is Yiddish or Hebrew or Ladino the defining element? If so, where do we place Franz Kafka, Primo Levi, Elie Weisel, Saul Bellow, Nellie Sachs? Is tradition the yardstick? Do we then classify Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet as a Jewish novel... as Holocaust literature... as American fiction? What Is Jewish Literature? debates all these possibilities. It is a landmark collection that encourages the reader to participate in the quest for answers that defy simple responses. The contributors reflect the multilingual and multicultural nature of any discussion of Jewish literature. Their voices range from polemical to speculative, from scientific to lyrical. What Is Jewish Literature? is an enduring contribution to the literary resource for the scholar, the teacher, and the student and for any individual who strives to appreciate, evaluate, and understand the varied riches of Jewish writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827605138
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 9/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 271

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Defining the Indefinable: What Is Jewish Literature? 3
I Jewish Literature in "Exile"?
On Jewish Storytelling 15
America: Toward Yavneh 20
The Question of American Jewish Poetry 36
Jewish Dreams and Nightmares 53
II Jewish, Hebrew, or Israeli Literature?
One Literature in Two Languages 69
Notes on Hebrew Literature 78
Israeli or Jewish Literature? 88
Modern Hebrew Literature: Zionist Perspectives and Israeli Realities 95
III Yiddish Language, Jewish Culture?
The Story's the Thing 119
Two Jews Talking: A View of Modern Yiddish Literature 129
The Semiotics of Yiddish Communication 143
IV Individual Voices, A Common Tradition? Four Case Studies
Shadows of Identity: A Comparative Study of German Jewish and American Jewish Literature 167
Lost Voices: Jewish Authors in Modern Arabic Literature 188
The Example of Isaac Babel 199
From Newark to Prague: Roth's Place in the American Jewish Literary Tradition 216
Notes on Contributors 231
Suggested Further Readings 235
Annotated List of Authors 239
Index 261
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